Eichentopf, Arno A. (807th)

Arno A. Eichentopf

Biography: Arno Avery Eichentopf was born on July 2, 1919, in Hoquiam, Washington. He was the son of Otto Louiss Eichentopf and Selma Anna Grober and in 1922, when Arno was only 3, the family moved to Portland, Oregon. It was there that his parents opened Otto’s Sausage Kitchen. Arno attended local schools and graduated from the High School of Commerce. After leaving school, he worked as a meat cutter and sausage maker. In 1938, he changed his name to Edwin Arno.

Although he had already changed his name, he entered the service under his original name on August 15, 1941, at Portland, OR.  After his basic training, he was eventually assigned to Company B of the 807th Tank Destroyer Battalion and trained with them at facilities within the U.S., including Camp Gruber, Oklahoma, for advanced training. On April 7, 1942, while on leave from the unit, Edwin married the former Eleanor Frances Sherman who was born in Portland and was the daughter of Oscar Henry Sherman and Frances Otelia Jabusch.

After returning to camp, Edwin continued his training with the unit, traveling to participate in the Louisiana maneuvers at Camp Polk, Louisiana, in September of 1943. It’s interesting to note that in the unit history, Arno is affectionately listed as “Oregon Eddie”.

The 807th was then sent to the Desert Training Center and later to Fort Dix, New Jersey, for final preparations for shipment overseas. The unit finally shipped out from the New York port aboard the USS Hermitage on August 11, 1944. They arrived in Liverpool, England, on August 23, 1944, and less than a month later, they boarded transports for France. Edwin specifically climbed aboard LST (Landing Ship Tank) #325, arriving at Utah Beach on September 18th. The unit was equipped with towed 3″ anti-tank guns.

The 807th fought in the Metz, France, sector in September to November and then attacked toward Saarlautern, Germany, in November and December. They battled the German Nordwind offensive in January, 1945, and then shifted north for offensive actions at the Rhine River in March. The unit defended the Rhine bridges in April and converted to M18 tank destroyers in time to join the drive through Bavaria late in the month. They finally reached the vicinity of Salzburg, Austria, in early May and then took up occupational duties, spending at least some of their time in Hockenheim, Germany. Edwin receive credit for each of the units campaigns, including the Rhineland and Central Europe and left the service at the rank of Master Sergeant.

Now back in the U.S., Edwin returned to Portland and also returned to the family business making sausage. In time, he would take over as the business owner. Edwin and Eleanor would have four children, including Ann born in 1950, Karen in 1953, Edwin “Jerry” in 1955 and David born in 1961. He passed on the business in 1985, and in 1972, he purchased his wife’s family home in Longview, OR, starting a tree farm on the property. In his spare time, the senior Edwin enjoyed model trains, ham radio, music and dancing. He and his wife were active in the local Lutheran church and he attended reunions of the 807th TD Bn.

Edwin passed away on September 7, 2008, and was buried in the Bunker Hill Cemetery in Longview, WA. I want to thank Edwin’ son, David, for providing the information and photos used in this tribute.